Legislative News
for Antipsychiatry Activists


ACTIVIST ALERT!! The Patient Freedom from Restraint Act of 1999 introduced in Congress as H.R. 1313 and S. 736.  See NARPA web site for more information.  Read what our opposition, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), is saying about this legislation on its website:

Reports are now surfacing and sources tell us that despite our and your grassroots advocacy, House Commerce Committee Democrats will include legislation on seclusion and restraint opposed by the APA -- the "Patient Freedom from Restraint Act of 1999" (H.R. 1313) -- in their forthcoming bill to reauthorize programs of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), now planned for introduction at the end of March. H.R. 1313, sponsored by Commerce Committee member Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) is by far the most restrictive and intrusive legislation introduced to date on seclusion and restraint. In addition to setting tough limits on approved use of seclusion and restraint, the bill would also establish an intrusive, cumbersome, and duplicative reporting scheme for adverse outcomes, and is fraught with major drafting problems.

Commerce Republicans will most likely take up the Senate-passed SAMHSA reauthorization bill (S. 976). This bill includes compromise language on seclusion and restraint developed by Senators Chris Dodd (R-CT) and Bill Frist (R-TN) with extensive input from APA and the hospitals; we are not opposing the Senate language.

APA is working with the AMA, hospital associations, and the American Nurses Association to seek legislative redress from the HCFA-imposed one-hour face to face patient review requirement. We will also urge Commerce Committee members to oppose the DeGette legislation as part of the SAMHSA reauthorization.

Another victory for our side: California Governor Gray Davis vetoes AB1363, a bill to expand outpatient psychiatric treatment of children without parental consent: According to the August 16, 1999 issue of Insight magazine, pages 18-19, California Assembly Bill 1363 would have created "a network of school based health centers throughout the Golden State to provide not only comprehensive medical care but also mental-health services.  ...  Some of the mental-health services that are to accompany this legislation include, but are not limited to, prescribing and dispensing prescription drugs...  California is one of 11 states in which minors may receive medical treatment without parental consent for contraceptive services, prenatal care, sexually transmitted diseases/HIV-AIDS services, alcohol and/or drug treatment and outpatient mental-health services.  ... Once the child uses the clinic the parent has no right to know what procedures have been done or medications prescribed."  According to a critic of the legislation quoted in the article, "all of this takes place behind the parents backs." Governor Davis' veto message is available on-line.

ACTIVIST ALERT!! Mental health parity bills in Congress: Two bills that would make one degree of other of parity for psychiatry mandatory in health insurance, in addition to that already required by current federal law, are pending in the U.S. Congress: H.B. 1515 and S. 796.  See the web site of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law (which supports these bills) and the Library of Congress web site for more information.  The Bazelon Center says these bills have a substantial chance of becoming law.  H.B. 1515's official description on the Library of Congress web site is "A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act, Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to prohibit group and individual health plans from imposing treatment limitations or financial requirements on the coverage of mental health benefits and on the coverage of substance abuse and chemical dependency benefits if similar limitations or requirements are not imposed on medical and surgical benefits."  S. 796 is described as "A bill to provide for full parity with respect to health insurance coverage for certain severe biologically-based mental illnesses and to prohibit limits on the number of mental illness-related hospital days and outpatient visits that are covered for all mental illnesses."  As of May 2, 2000, each of these bills had been referred to committee with no action taken on either of them.
      According to a California Senate report, The "federal Mental Health Parity Act (P.L. No. 104-204), which went into effect on January 1, 1998, prohibits health plans from setting annual or lifetime dollar limits on an enrollee's mental health benefits that are lower than any such limits on other medical care.  The federal requirement does not apply to employers with fewer than 50 employees.  A recent New York Times article reports that some health plans have responded to the prohibition on monetary limits by instituting limits on patient visits, treatment sessions, and hospital lengths of stay."  The currently proposed federal legislation would go further than current federal law, which still allows insurers to provide less coverage for psychiatric "hospitalization" and "treatment" than for bona-fide health care.
      Parity for "mental health" in health insurance makes more money available to support psychiatric oppression and human rights violations - including unjustified, unnecessary, involuntary psychiatric "hospitalizations" lasting for months or years that otherwise would have been cut short by insurance benefits running out.  See Unjustified Psychiatric Commitment in the U.S.A.  Advocates of psychiatric oppression have been winning battles recently, such as enactment of a similar mental health parity law in California.  For the sake of human freedom, human rights, and common sense, let's do what we can to prevent prevent mandatory coverage for psychiatry in health insurance from becoming federal law.  Write to your U.S. senators and representative asking them to vote against this legislation:

Sen. ________________
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20515

Rep. ________________
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20510

See letters typical of those sent by antipsychiatry activist Douglas A. Smith to members of Congress opposing this legislation.

Mental health parity enacted in California: On September 27, 1999, California Governor Gray Davis approved a new law passed by the Legislature, AB-88, requiring equal coverage in health insurance for "diagnosis" and "treatment" of "mental illness" in California.  The new law is effective July 1, 2000.  The opening words of the new law state a number of psychiatric myths as fact:

SECTION 1. (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) Mental illness is real.
(2) Mental illness can be reliably diagnosed.
(3) Mental illness is treatable.
(4) Treatment of mental illness is cost-effective.
(b) The Legislature further finds and declares all of the following:
(1) There is increasing scientific evidence that severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, and major depression, are as effectively treated with medications as other severe illnesses.  ... [etc., etc.]

All of the California Legislature's above "findings" and "declarations" are simply, factually wrong.  A little over three hundred years ago, American colonial legislatures enacted laws declaring witchcraft was real and prescribing death for anyone practicing it.  Now as then, our lawmakers sometimes accept myth and nonsense as fact.  Governor Gray Davis has no excuse for the ignorance that led to his approval of this bill, because on September 21, six days before he approved it, an Express Mail letter from Antipsychiatry Coalition activist Douglas A. Smith was delivered to the Governor's office containing (1) several of our Antipsychiatry Coalition pamphlets (also found on this website), (2) a copy of Eugene H. Methvin's article "Cuckoo's Nest" from the July 15, 1996 National Review magazine showing how mental health insurance causes unnecessary psychiatric "hospitalization" and "treatment," and (3) excerpts from several books, including psychologist Elliot S. Valenstein's Blaming the Brain: The Truth About Drugs and Mental Health, psychiatrist-neurologist Sydney Walker's A Dose of Sanity and The Hyperactivity Hoax, psychiatrist Peter Breggin's Brain Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, and psychologist Margaret Hagen's Whores of the Court: The Fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice.  The portions most succinctly describing the stupidity of the concepts of mental illness and psychiatric "diagnosis" and "treatment" were underlined or highlighted in yellow.  Why did Governor Davis sign this bill?  He probably didn't take the time or wasn't conscientious enough to read even the underlined or highlighted portions of this material.  Another theory suggested by California neurologist Fred Baughman is that the manufacturers of psychiatric drugs are contributing so much money to the campaigns of lawmakers that we have a "best politicians money can buy" situation.  He suggests we use the Freedom of Information Act to find out which politicians have been, in essence, bought off with drug company campaign contributions and hope revealing this to the electorate will weaken the grip lobbyists with a lot of money have on our state legislatures and Congress.

New York enacts "Outpatient Commitment" law (Kendra's Law); Mental Patients' Liberation Alliance protested in Albany, N.Y., August 15-17, 1999 and got local TV coverage; Antipsychiatry Coalition ran 14 radio ads opposing Kendra's Law
On Thursday, August 5, 1999, in a hurried last day of the legislative session described by The New York Times as in "disarray," both the New York Senate and Assembly passed a forced outpatient drugging bill called Kendra's Law, named for a woman killed by a person described as mentally ill who had stopped taking psychiatric drugs.  Under this law, law-abiding people accused of mental illness may be incarcerated in a mental institution because they refuse to take psychiatric drugs.  A copy of Antipsychiatry Coalition web-master Douglas Smith's letter to Governor Pataki about this bill that was delivered by Express Mail on August 9, the same day the Governor received the bill, appears in Antipsychiatry News Clips.
      In protest of the state Senate's and Assembly's passage of Kendra's Law, and as a vigil as all concerned awaited Governor Pataki's signature or veto of the bill, people who have been labeled mentally ill camped out at the East Park of the state capitol in Albany, New York for 72 hours from 7:00 p.m. Sunday, August 15, until 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, August 18.  See A Guide to Kendra's Law for a good summation of the law's provisions.  Two Albany television stations, Channels 6 and 13, covered the protest in their local news broadcasts. 
      For more information about the New York Mental Patients' Liberation Alliance, contact George Ebert at (315) 475-4120 or (315) 947-5015.
      The Antipsychiatry Coalition ran the below radio advertisement 14 times on August 19 & 20 on an Albany, New York all-news radio station, WABY-AM, 1400 kHz.  August 19 & 20 were the last two days allowed by law for Governor Pataki to veto the Kendra's Law bill.  If your web browser and computer are audio equipped, you can listen to the ad by clicking on the "play audio" link below.  If it plays haltingly, try a second time or download to disk before playing:

play audio
"Many commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs cause permanent brain damage.  Yet the New York Legislature recently passed Kendra's Law, a bill to force people living in their own homes to take these harmful drugs.  Governor Pataki has until Friday, August twentieth to veto this bill.  Please contact the Governor expressing your opposition.  Get more information on the Internet at www.antipsychiatry.org.  Paid for by the Antipsychiatry Coalition."

The official word until after August 20 was that Governor Pataki had taken no action on the bill.  However, the official New York state web site now indicates that the bill was signed into law on August 9.

Wyoming enacts "outpatient commitment" law effective July 1, 1999
On his Treatment Advocacy Center web site, www.psychlaws.org, Dr. E. Fuller Torrey and associates have announced that on July 1, 1999 Wyoming became the 40th state of the U.S.A. to have an "outpatient Commitment" law.  Since then, New York has enacted such a law.  Let these victories by the advocates of psychiatric oppression motivate us to intensify our efforts to oppose oppressive uses of psychiatry.

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